Custer City… Where the Buffalo Roam in Town

Given that 2,000 buffalo roam on the outskirts of Custer City, South Dakota, it’s not surprising that the town has a buffalo fixation. We found one on every corner!

Photo of colorful buffalo sculpture in Custer City, SD was taken by photographer Peggy Mekemson.
This colorful creature was one of many buffalo sculptures we found in Custer City.

Over the past several years, Peggy and I have been in a number of communities that feature sculptures of animals. Several have been buffalo, but we have also seen bears, cows, horses, elk, and sandhill cranes. I’ve little doubt that other communities feature dogs, cats, pigs and rhinos. Rhinos? Apparently you can find a hundred of them in Cape Town, South Africa. We love the unique, colorful, sculptures. Like murals, they are attractive to locals and visitors alike, and encourage both community pride and tourism.

Photo of ghostly buffalo in Custer City, South Dakota by photographer Peggy Mekemson.
This ghostly buffalo…
Photo of side view of buffalo sculpture showing bones in Custer City, South Dakota by photographer Curt Mekemson.
Was a lesson in buffalo anatomy, as well as a possible Halloween treat. All of the buffalo featured ‘keep off the buffalo’ signs like the one beneath the buffalo’s chin. I could see tourists climbing on top or plopping their 5-year-old on top for photos.
Photo of white buffalo sculpture in Custer City, SD by photographer Peggy Mekemson.
Rare white buffalo were considered sacred by American Indians and played important roles in their legends.
Photo of horses featured on white buffalo sculpture in Custer City, SD taken by photographer Curt Mekemson.
One side of the white buffalo sculpture featured horses that were used by the Indians for hunting buffalo.
Photo of buffalo featuring local scenery in Custer City, SD by photographer Peggy Mekemson.
Several buffalo featured local scenery.
Photo of Buffalo sculpture in Custer City, South Dakota featuring a painted buffalo by photographer Curt Mekemson.
And buffalos, including a painting of a very colorful buffalo escaping from a forest fire.
Photograph of brown buffalo sculpture in Custer City, SD by photographer Curt Mekemson.
This large brown fellow featured another large brown buffalo and a buffalo herd. We really liked the way the buffalo’s shoulder provided a three dimensional effect for the painted buffalo.
Photo of buffalo hunting scene on a buffalo sculpture in Custer City, SD by photographer Curt Mekemson.
A more abstract painting on another sculpture featured a buffalo, horse, possible medicine man, mountains, desert, and a lightning storm.
A dramatic scene that featured a Native American with his dog and two lurking wolves.
Photo of buffalo sculpture in Custer City South Dakota featuring mountain goats by Photographer Peggy Mekemson.
The artist for this buffalo sculpture in Custer City featured mountain goats, including one romping on top of its head. Note the scene on the back…
Photo of buffalo sculpture in Custer City, SD featuring a scene from Custer State Park's scenic Needles Highway by photographer Curt Mekemson.
It’s a scene from along the Needles Highway in Custer State Park, which is named for its dramatic rock formations— a must-see of the park. Mountain goats live there. We will feature the narrow, curvy highway with its gorgeous scenery and tunnels our truck could barely fit through in our next South Dakota post two weeks from now.

Next Monday’s post will feature the Egyptian myth of Osiris and Isis plus the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis near Cairo.

46 thoughts on “Custer City… Where the Buffalo Roam in Town

  1. I love the bison – each so unique and creative!
    In the big city near us (Calgary) the animal chosen for painting was a cow. The painting project was called ‘Udderly Art’. Calgary is, of course, home of the Calgary Stampede and is often referred to as Cow Town.

  2. We loved our stay in Custer several years ago and exploring the Black Hills. I look forward to your take on the Needles Hwy. Back in the 70s, my dad actually drove the motorhome thru that tunnel. My mom sat on the floor with her eyes closed while my brother and I laughed.

    • I can’t believe your dad driving a motorhome through the Needle Tunnel, Ingrid. I may have been down on the floor myself! LOL Our truck barely made it, as I will refer to in my Needles’ post this coming Monday.

  3. Oh these are great Curt. That one with the Needles Highway is especially impressive. Here in Van we have bears and orcas. And years ago I came across, of all things, elephants in Milan.

  4. I don’t think they had the buffalo when we last passed through Custer City, I imagine it depends on the town, but when we lived in Cape Coral they had dolphins; artists submitted proposals and found sponsors to support their purchase and installation. I have seen bears in Cherokee, NC and on the coast. Now after your post Curt, I will keep my eyes open for other examples.

    • One of my blogging friends just mentioned pelicans and herons near Houston, Ray. I too have seen the bears of Cherokee. Always fun. I suspect that many of the sculptures are paid for in the same way. Everyone wins!

    • Several reflected the Native American culture, as the white one did. I thought the horses on it were quite dramatic/mystical. As for the Needles Highway, Peggy, that’s my focus on next Monday’s post. –Curt

  5. What a treat! But how could you forget the Duck sculptures in Eugene? I seem to have a vague memory of a duck theme in Boston as well. Also there’s a vague recall of colorful seal statues in Waldport. Now you have me wondering if you encountered any of this sort of critter statues during your European travels? 🤔

  6. A couple of towns over, it was the Pelican that took over; there’s even an astronaut pelican! Then, two towns in the other direction, they decided it was a good idea, and now they are developing quite a flock of herons. It’s such fun. Of course, Dallas had to take it to thenext level; they have a plaza filled with longhorns, all in bronze.

    • Fun it is, Linda. And I have to believe it’s good for the residents of the town as well as tourists. Herons and pelicans are certainly representative of your area. As for longhorns, I remember when the Burners from Texas created a giant one out on the Playa.
      Speaking of Burning Man, Peggy and I have tickets for this year!

  7. About 20 years back we had quite the herd of colorful cows here in Portland. I wonder where they went? Looks like Custer City has a lot of good artists, or maybe drew some for the project.

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